Herbal medicine is estimated to be used by 80% of the world. It is gaining traction over recent years and preferred above traditional medicine. Predominantly in the South and East, western countries are beginning to shift to herbal medication.
The bases for most herbal treatments and medicines have been derived from indigenous systems. In turn, dictating the preparation methods and application of these medicines. The popularity of herbal medicines has been mainly due to its success in areas where traditional medicine has failed.
Although results have at times been questionable, people seem to display a sense of frustration with the use of traditional medicine over the years. And this has been further fuelled by the ever-increasing costs associated with traditional medicine and procedures.
Certain countries with historical relation and experience in the practice have stood to benefit massively from this shift towards herbal medicines. China is the world’s largest herbal medicine producer currently and this is thanks to their medical system which dates back almost 2200 years. They have been able to capitalize on this boom and spread their remedies and medicines all around the world.
While China dominates the market, there are many other countries also making an entry into the market and having successful growth. India has been able to gain popularity through their Ayurvedic practices, appealing to western countries by including a certain spiritual aspect to it.
On the other hand, countries like Fiji have been able to introduce newer medicines to the market. They most recently gained popularity for being one of the leading suppliers of Kava. These newer medicines have shown promising results with mental illnesses and overall mental wellbeing; an area where traditional medicines have historically failed to deliver.
Some of the main reasons contributing to the popularity of herbal medicine over traditional medication which have been highlighted by the WHO through recently concluded studies are:
- Fears of side effects, there is a stigma especially around vaccines.
- Frustration and distrust with governments, leading to people seeking alternate choices from government promoted products, such as medication.
- Due to massive advertisement and promotion of herbal products by both medical personnel and influencers.
- Inability to afford the expensive medication and procedures of traditional medicine. Prices for vital drugs and operations have seen a steep increase over recent years.
- Out of curiosity and belief that using both traditional and herbal medicines together will give better results.
Although herbal medicine has shown results and continues to grow rapidly, it has also received a fair portion of criticism. This has mainly been due to the fact that the herbal medicine sector is rather under regulated. Paving way for fraudulent businesses and individuals to take advantage and operate freely.There is also case made towards the efficacy and safety of certain herbal medication. And due to the recent popularity of herbal medication, more testing and research is being conducted to help overcome these issues. And new regulations are being set in place to ensure the safety, efficacy and quality of these medicines.